WILKESBORO — MerleFest, presented by Window World, has announced the second round of artist additions for MerleFest 2022, which will be held April 28 to May 1, 2022. Old Crow Medicine Show, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Allison Russell, and We Banjo 3 will join an impressive lineup which includes performances by Emmylou Harris, Greensky Bluegrass, Rissi Palmer, and more.
MerleFest is the annual late April homecoming of musicians and music fans on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC.
“We are so excited to welcome music fans back to the campus of Wilkes Community College in the spring,” says MerleFest’s new Festival Director, Wes Whitson.
Additional fan favorites announced include Darrell Scott, Alison Brown, 49 Winchester, Arlo McKinley, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, The Arcadian Wild, Caleb Caudle, and Dr. Bacon.
In addition to aforementioned acts, the following artists and bands were previously announced in late 2021: Andy May, Banknotes, Carol Rifkin, Charles Welch, Donna the Buffalo, Happy Traum, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, Jerry Douglas, Jim Lauderdale, Joe Smothers, Kruger Brothers, Laura Boosinger, Mark Bumgarner, Mitch Greenhill, Pete & Joan Wernick, Peter Rowan, Presley Barker, Roy Book Binder, Sam Bush, Scythian, T. Michael Coleman, The InterACTive Theatre of Jef, The Local Boys, The Waybacks, Tony Williamson and Wayne Henderson.
Old Crow Medicine Show started busking on street corners in 1998 New York state and up through Canada, winning audiences along the way with their boundless energy and spirit. They eventually found themselves in Boone, North Carolina where they caught the attention of folk icon Doc Watson while playing in front of a pharmacy. He invited the band to play at his festival, MerleFest, helping to launch their career. Shortly thereafter the band was hired to entertain crowds between shows at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.
It’s been more than 20 years since these humble beginnings. The band has gone on to receive the honor of being inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry and have won two Grammy Awards: “Best Folk Album” for Remedy (2014) and “Best Long Form Music Video” for Big Easy Express (2013). Additionally, their classic single, “Wagon Wheel,” received the RIAA’s Double-Platinum certification in 2019 for selling more than 2,000,000 copies while the band’s debut album “O.C.M.S.” has been certified Gold (500,000 copies). The band’s latest release “Paint This Town” will be released on April 22 via ATO Records.
With a refreshed lineup and newfound energy, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band remains one of the most accomplished bands in American roots music.
Following an extended 50th anniversary tour, the ensemble grew to a six-piece in 2018 for the first time since their early jug band days. The group now includes Jeff Hanna (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica), Bob Carpenter (keyboards), Jim Photoglo (bass, acoustic guitar), Ross Holmes (fiddle, mandolin) and Jaime Hanna (electric and acoustic guitar). All six members also sing, and when their voices merge, the harmonies add a powerful new component for the legendary band. And with the father-son pairing of Jeff and Jaime Hanna, the band carries on a country music tradition of blood harmony.
Steep Canyon Rangers are Asheville, NC’s Grammy winners, perennial Billboard chart-toppers, and frequent collaborators of the renowned banjoist (and occasional comedian) Steve Martin.
Steep Canyon Rangers released three albums in 2020, all on Yep Roc Records. The Grammy-nominated “North Carolina Songbook” is a recording of their live 2019 performance at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, in which they performed a selection of songs by North Carolina songwriters (Ola Belle Reed, Doc Watson, James Taylor, Ben E. King, and others). “Be Still Moses” — perhaps their most singular musical partnership to date — has the band teaming with Philadelphia soul legends Boyz II Men and their hometown Asheville Symphony to completely overhaul the Rangers’ original “Be Still Moses,” which was first recorded on their 2007 breakout album “Lovin’ Pretty Women.” The album includes re-imagined versions of Steep Canyon’s previously released original songs performed with an orchestra. Their most recent release of all original music, “Arm in Arm” came out in October.
Allison Russell’s new album, “Outside Child” — draws water from the dark well of a violent past — is her first solo offering, she also being a pivotal voice in two bands: Birds of Chicago and Our Native Daughters. And telling her own story sounds now to have made her free—not from it all, but free within it: to reframe and reclaim her identity and its singular authority.
The songs themselves—though iron-hard in their concerns—are exultant: exercising haunted dreams like clean bedsheets snapped and hung out into broad daylight, and with the romantic poet’s lust for living and audacity of endurance.
Nina Simone comes to mind, as well Edith Piaf: two shamanistic practitioners who turned their faces into the blade of the storm and roared back dignity and hope. This music, no less, is a triumph: a courageous work—burnished and bright; unspeakably beautiful as she sings the unspeakable. Above all, it is an act of remarkable generosity: a cathartic, soulful, buoyant and redeeming gift to us all and, one must believe, to herself as well.
Debuting in the U.S. in 2012, We Banjo 3 has since emerged as fast-rising touring darlings in the country that two of the members now call home. The Galway, Ireland, and Nashville-based quartet—comprised of two sets of brothers, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley—continually push musical boundaries while maintaining an unwavering devotion to the essential audience experience. WB3 seamlessly converges the shared and varied traditions of Americana, Bluegrass, and Celtic music with pop-sensible songcraft to create a truly unique and gratifying signature sound.
Tickets for next year’s festival are on sale now and may be purchased at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. Festival vendor and volunteer application windows are now open. Visit merlefest.org/vendors or merlefest.org/volunteer to sign up.
MerleFest 2022 will host its second annual MerleFest Mega Raffle to support scholarships at Wilkes Community College. Tickets are on sale now. The Mega Raffle drawings will be held during the festival on Sunday, May 1, at the Raffle/Silent Auction Tent from 1 to 2 p.m. More than $170,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. Only 5,000 tickets will be sold, and ticket holders do not have to be present to win. Raffle tickets are $100 each and include two entries to the MerleFest Mega Raffle drawings. To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.merlefest.org/megaraffle.
MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including old-time, classic country, bluegrass, folk and gospel, and blues, and expanded to include Americana, classic rock, and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the multi-day event. MerleFest is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects, and other educational needs.